A lampshade of one’s own: meet the artist behind Muswell Hill’s newest interiors brand

PUBLISHED: 12:59 10 February 2017 | UPDATED: 13:14 10 February 2017

The lampshades are based on Freeborn's paper collage artworks

The lampshades are based on Freeborn's paper collage artworks

Rosalind Freeborn

After 15 years Rosalind Freeborn finally made it to art school. Now she is launching her brand Papershades, selling her unique artisanal lampshades

Rosalind Freeborn finally achieved her dream of becoming an artistRosalind Freeborn finally achieved her dream of becoming an artist

“Life can get in the way,” she says. “I was happy – there was children and running a household, but I was so delighted to finally be able study art.” After spending years wanting to go to art school, but not being able to because of the demands of life, Freeborn took the plunge, studying a postgraduate diploma in fine art. This gave her the confidence to pursue art more seriously, which lead to her launching Papershades. Just like Virginia Woolf writes on in her seminal 1929 essay ‘A Room of One’s Own’, Freeborn found a new purpose; a new direction, after finding the time to pursue art.

“I’ve been an artist for years and about 15 years ago I finally made it to art school,” she said. “It was something I had been aching to do for such a long time. It was like getting permission to be an artist.”

Freeborn’s art shares similarities with Woolf’s but not in the way you might think. Although both use paper for their art, Freeborn isn’t writing literature, she’s creating lampshades.

Using tissue paper and wallpaper, Freeborn creates patterns and even portraits using a collage technique – something she became interested in whilst studying. “I always had this thing with paper. This is my language; this is my texture. It was almost a mixture between sculpture and painting.”

Freeborn's designs were inspired by thoughts of summer flowers during a long winterFreeborn's designs were inspired by thoughts of summer flowers during a long winter

The idea for the project came after a cold winter that “seemed to go on forever”. In the midst of the dreary London cold spell, Freeborn had an idea. She would create a collage that evoked summer, and manipulate her creations to be lampshades, so they could sit inside people’s houses. It was a way for her art become part of her own home, and for her to share it with other people – for anyone “with a lamp stand who’d like to cheer up their house”. Her website, which features six designs of lampshades, pulls a variety of clients but it’s still early days. “We’re not talking [about selling] a lot at the moment, but hopefully by this time next year I would like to have sold out.”

On a “mission to prevent lampshades from being boring,” the actual process behind the idea is quite simple. Using her chosen technique, Freeborn creates unique designs such as floral creations and abstract patterns using a variety of materials.

By shredding the different types of paper, Freeborn creates collages based on her inspiration. Once she has completed the original design, she will scan the artwork onto her computer, print off the image onto five panels. These panels can then be attached to a wheel by hand, to create a complete lampshade.

It’s so simple Freeborn is encouraging others to get involved. The artist has started holding workshops – either at her own home in Muswell Hill or in an individual’s home – for anyone hoping to get the chance to create something themselves. So far she has run six workshops, all of which, she says, were successful.

Freeborn is on a mission to banish boring lampshadesFreeborn is on a mission to banish boring lampshades

Whether you consider yourself a Georgia O’Keeffe in the making, or have never touched a paintbrush, the workshops are for everyone and have been frequented by a “vast variety of people”. “Lots of people would say that they weren’t creative but they didn’t need a huge amount of direction from me,” she says. “The result in each case was stunning.”

Whether it’s been setting up a website, dealing with the accounts of a new business, or just the general demands of becoming an entrepreneur, there have been many challenges involved along the way. But Freeborn says it was worth taking a risk on her passion.

“It just felt like something I needed to find out if it would work. What is there to life if you don’t give things a go?”


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